The world marked on Thursday the first anniversary of the death of Diego Maradona, considered by some to be the greatest soccer player of all time and a man adored in his home country, Argentina, despite, or perhaps because of, his human defects.
Maradona died of a heart attack last November at age 60, weeks after undergoing brain surgery for a blood clot.
The former Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli star had battled cocaine and alcohol addiction for years and suffered from liver, kidney and cardiovascular disorders when he died.
His death shocked fans around the world, and tens of thousands queued to pass his coffin, draped in the Argentine flag, at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires during three days of national mourning.
He may be dead, but in Argentina Maradona is everywhere.
From ubiquitous wall frescoes portraying him as a deity to television series about his life and even a religion named after him.
His two goals in the 1986 World Cup quarterfinals, in which Argentina triumphed over England just four years after the Falklands War, made Maradona an instant hero.
In Naples, where Maradona is as much an icon as in Buenos Aires, a statue of him was unveiled outside the Napoli stadium, which was renamed in tribute after his death.
On Thursday morning, the president of Naples, Aurelio De Laurentiis, left flowers in the so-called ‘Largo Maradona’, an area of the famous ‘Spanish Quarter’ of Naples covered in murals in honor of the Argentine.
The club urged fans to arrive for Sunday night’s game with Lazio more than three hours early so that they could be present for an “intense” commemoration ceremony, while De Laurentiis said statues would be placed inside Napoli’s stadium.
Maradona’s story from poverty to wealth, stellar sporting achievements, complicated life, and dramatic death cemented his place in the Argentine psyche.
In cities, Maradona’s name is commemorated in countless graffiti: “Diego vive”, “10 Eterno” and “D10S”, a play on words with the Spanish word for god, “Dios”, and the famous shirt number of Maradona.
The murals in Buenos Aires represent him with angel wings, as a patron saint with a halo and a scepter, or here on Earth, kissing the World Cup.
Maradona is perhaps remembered both for his goal “Hand of God” – which illegally slipped from his hand in what he attributed to a supernatural intervention – and for his second in the same match against England, which would later become known as the “Goal of the Century “.
For historian Felipe Pigna, Maradona is “a hero with many imperfections”, a mixture of qualities that reflects “what it means to be Argentine.”